Tuesday, May 3

The Words We Love

Got any favorite words? Words you just like the sound of, perhaps, or words you like because they express something specific that no other word expresses so well.

Here are three of mine, with explanations of why I like them [Update: Words in the list after #3 were added by readers] :
  1. Poppycock. I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned before that I love this word. First of all, it sounds like it ought to mean what it does mean, and that's always a good thing in a word. Then too, if you look it up, you'll find that at it's core, it's kind of the equivalent of the BS term, yet this word has an aura of proprietry about it. Perfect ladies are allowed to use it as long as they are not shouting it in the face of someone presently speaking.
  2. Fiat. Unfortunately, I don't get many opportunities to use this one, because except for it's use as the name of an automobile maker, there aren't all that many things to which it truly applies. But when it does, it's perfect. It's the perfect word to describe God's calling into existence things that do not exist: ex nihilo by fiat.

    Are these nugats nugatory?
  3. Nugatory. Okay, I just learned this one last night, so I'm not sure it has staying power on my favorite word list, but I think it might. Watch for it on the blog; maybe I'll use it. Perhaps I'll say that the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration ensures that this particular expression of God's grace is not nugatory.
  4. Diaphanous. This one is added by DLE, who says he "can almost see the sheerness of it." I have to admit that this is a new word to me. See what you can learn blogging?
  5. Curmudgeon. Another of DLE's additions. He explains why he likes it this way: "Cur+mud+the last part of dungeon. That says it all." Yep, that says it all. Plus, it's always useful to have one more term for "cranky old man."
  6. Ethereal. DLE seems to have a thing for "mist-like" words.
  7. Cantankerous. DLE explains this one this way: "When it applies, it REALLY applies." Anyone in particular in mind?
  8. Prig. "Short, nasty and oh so apropos with some people," writes DLE. I love this one, too, along with all its word forms: priggish, priggery, priggishness, and even priggism.
  9. Actually. This one is added by Laurie, who says, "I love this word because it always seems to be one of the first 'big' words that little kids learn to use in context. I loved hearing my 2-year-old niece say, 'Act-to-lily, I want da pink one.' She'd been hearing her 4-year-old sister use it and decided she ought to do it too." (I love it when they put the word well in front of it, and say "Well, actually...", drawing the word out and pronouncing each syllable for emphasis.)
  10. Indeed. This addition is given to us by Rey (and Laura). Rey explains that he almost hears it in the voice of James Earl Jones and through a respirator.
  11. Unfathomable. Ooooh! I love this one, too. It's the same idea--more or less--as the word infinite, but it approaches the idea from a different angle. Rey says this one "always makes me dwell on the wonder of God."
  12. Impressive. Rey's comment on this one? "Indeed, it is most impressive."

    Shocking indeed!
  13. Shocking. From Stephanie, who explains, "I love to hear my 3 year old use it. I love to use the word shocking! It really mixes things up a bit. You hear 'Wow,' and 'Really,' and 'Hmm,' a lot; but shocking really does it for me." She's right. The word shocking makes you sit up and take notice.
  14. Albeit. Kim says this one is "so concise as compared to however."
  15. Flabbergasted. This one is added to the list by Waterfall. This word has such a wonderful sound and look, doesn't it? It can come in handy, too.
  16. Flummoxed. Of this word and flabbergasted Waterfall says, "They're such mouthfuls and have and overwhelming sense about them ... kind of like being flabbergasted or flummoxed!"
  17. Musical. From Waterfall again: "I love the etymology--'art of the Muses'--and the word itself is just, well, musical." If you read her blog, you'll not be surprised this is one of her favorites.

    Yes, a platta' yulelog,
    but no platypi! ( I should
    have gone with the picture
    of the gnu.)
  18. Gnu. Yep, good thing we have Waterfall around to remind us of this one: "It's just a funny-looking word. I can just look at that word and start laughing." It's right up on my list as well, along with those other odd animal names, like platypus and yak. (The other nice thing about platypus is that when you have more than one, you can call them platypi. )
  19. Ephemeral. Scott G. likes this one: "I see it used most often in reference to the temptations of this world. That worldly pleasures are fleeting or transitory is a thoroughly biblical understanding. And yet, despite believing this to be true, I still find them attractive. As Paul said, 'I do the very thing I hate.' Thanks be to God through Jesus for rescuing us from the snare of ephemeral temporal pleasures."
  20. Syncretic. From Jonathan Dresner, who tells us, "All culture is syncretic...."
  21. Codswallop. Teem suggests this word. It has the same sort of use as my own favorite--poppycock. "It can be uttered with vehemence and spoken properly no one can misunderstand what it means."
  22. Syzygy. Brandon added this one in a post over at his blog. I'd like it too, but that'd mean I'd have to spell it.
  23. Fiddlesticks. DLE is back again with more. He says this word is like codswallop but doesn't pack quite the same wallop.
  24. Great Zarking Fardwarks! This one's from DLE, too, and yes, he does know that this is an exclamatory phrase and not a word. He's asking for an exception in honor of the film release of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Shall we give it to him?
  25. Inconceivable. Bowden reminds us of this wonderful word from my favorite movie of all time: Princess Bride.
  26. Paradox. This word is added to the list by Debbie, who tells us that this word "is almost a sacred word which helps us cope with the unexplainable events of this world."
  27. Cheedle. Another favorite word from Debbie. This "is the orange stuff left on your fingers after eating Cheetos."
  28. Epiphany. Added to the list by Lynn S.: "It sounds so important and spiritual. I try not to over-use it."
  29. Defenestration. Lynn S. again. Yep, its really fun to think that there is a specific word to use every time I throw something out the window.
  30. Shriek. So much better than scream, Lynn tells us. Shreik sure seems more shrill, doesn't it?
  31. Opalescent and luminescent. We might add any of the "escent" words, I suppose. These additions are from Lynn, too.
  32. Erg. Added to the list by LDH, but this is one of my favorites, too, because it's such a useful Scrabble word, along with it's good friend ohm. LDH likes it "because it sounds like an inarticulate grunt-noise but has a detailed scientific meaning, but perhaps mostly because it's part of the history of one of my favorite super-heros."
  33. Moot. This one's been suggested by Russell Sutherland. Moot is a great word, but one most people use incorrectly, as Russell points out: "Thats a moot point, is used commonly when one wants to say: 'It's irrelavent or not worth discussing' when in fact it means that a point is still a topic of debate and discussion."
  34. Hemidemisemiquaver. I agree with Russell that this one is quite funny. It's a real word, though, found in my little dictionary; and no, I'm not going to tell you what it means. Russell like to use it in "one-up-manship sessions relating to English language."
  35. Factotum. Russell says that this word is very useful, and I can see that it might be, although I've made it this far in life without ever using it. I'm thinking that it's a title a SAHM might want to adopt. Especially a SAHM who homeschools and blogs and keeps chickens.
  36. Majordomo. This is from Russell, too, and it might have the same application as factotum, but it's just not as dignified sounding, is it?
  37. Virtually. Paula's back to add another word to the list. Paula says, "I promised a friend I would never use [this word] when I was writing advertising because he suggested it is 'useless.' .... He hated those commercials about dishwashing detergents that leave your dishes 'virtually spotless.' Well, they're spotless or they aren't and if they are only 'nearly' spotless, then your product doesn't work very well now does it? So I like the word because it's one I know I can avoid and make fun of." Yep, this word is virtually useless.

[Update, May 6: The Crusty Curmudgeon creates his own list. Very useful words, too. And no, I won't tell you what they are. Go see for yourself!]

You can add to the Words We Love list by adding your faves in the comments. Feel free to explain why you like them, too.

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